Category Archives: microserfs

Microserfs – Douglas Coupland


A few months ago I read and enjoyed Coupland’s jPod novel. In a number of reviews jPod was described as the logical successor to his previous novel Microserfs.

The plot synopsis (from wikipedia)

The novel begins with a glimpse into the lives of employees of Microsoft: the people that create the technology that sits on the majority of office desks in the world. Microsoft is portrayed as having a feudalistic structure, with Bill Gates as its lord and the employees as Microserfs. The characters, most of them in their early or mid-twenties, share the same workplace and home in the Seattle area. They decry their employment situation and the effects it has on their social lives: their daily schedules are dictated by software product cycles.

When one of them decides to leave Microsoft and found a software company to create a Lego-like software toy called “Oop!” (a reference to object-oriented programming), the others jump at the opportunity to join him in California. They leave behind stability and job security for the relative unknowns of a start-up company. The characters are driven not only by the chance that their software product will be financially successful, but also by the chance to be “One-Point-Oh”: “To be the first to do the first version of something”. The novel examines the effects on their personal lives of their struggle to obtain venture capital and bring their software to market. Also, as one character alluded, the change of cultures from Microsoft to Silicon Valley triggers the group to grow and blossom as individuals.

Like jPod the book is in the form of a journal kept by Daniel one of the characters, it also has odd pages of random gibberish and a few easter eggs of encoded messages. It describes the period in the IT industry that occurred just before the dot-com bubble burst.

It was an enjoyable read and I can highly recommend it, it is funny, poignant and clever.